10 Proven Productivity Hacks

Small business productivity doesn’t magically increase. It takes initiative. And it’s hardly ever one major change that makes companies “productive,” but rather a collection of small changes over time that add up to a major difference.

Here at Concur, we’re always looking for new ways to make the companies we work with more productive, whether it’s through invoice management or mobile expense reporting. The following ten small business productivity hacks alone will probably not revolutionize your company. But combine a handful of the most applicable tips, and you could see a noticeable difference in a matter of weeks, or even days.

1. Plant some plants

You should be fond of flora, and not just for the aesthetics. Turns out these green friends improve creativity by 45%, and overall well-being by 47%, say scientists at the University of Exeter. Plant-filled rooms also contain fewer bacteria, meaning days away from the office are more likely to recharge rather than recuperate.

2. Provide a second screen

Multiple studies have shown how doubling down on monitors boosts productivity. For even more productivity, add a third screen. According to research commissioned by Fujitsu Siemens Computers, providing three displays increases productivity by an average of 35.5%.

3. Let the light in

When we don’t get enough natural light, cortisol levels drop, leading to higher stress and less sleep. Conversely, those who work in spaces with ample natural light stayed on task 15% longer on average, according to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. For higher small business productivity, eliminate the dark spaces in your office.  Hello, sunshine!

4. Something smells productive

This will seem weird, but the scents we pick up from our environment can affect productivity. The nice part is you don’t need to bombard the office with offensive odors. The Takasago Corporation reports that workers make fewer errors when they smell lemons, jasmine and lavender.

5. Teach employees how to say "no"

There is a massive psychological difference between saying “I don’t” and “I can’t.” Empower employees to maintain job satisfaction and autonomy by teaching them to say “I don’t” when the situation calls for it. For example, saying “I don’t have the bandwidth” or “I don’t miss meetings with this client” is often perfectly acceptable, and employees shouldn’t feel a sense of guilt when making rational decisions that are good for themselves and the company.

6. Let's get physical

Do you allow employees to exercise during regular work hours? According to research by Leed Metropolitan University, you should strongly consider dedicated exercise time.Quality of work and the ability to work effectively with peers was much higher among those who exercised during work hours.

7. Provide the right snacks

You’ve heard the phrase, “you are what you eat.” Well, what you eat affects how your brain works, too. Productivity levels rise by an average of 20% with good nutrition, according to the World Health Organization.

Help employees stay alert and focused by ensuring complimentary food and snacks have a low glycemic index. These snacks provide steady levels of glucose that fuel brains throughout the day, without the spikes and crashes that come with high glycemic snacks and drinks.

8. Let employees jam

Multiple studies have shown how music helps us work more accurately, efficiently and happily. If you have a no headphones policy, you may want to revisit it.

9. Check the temp

If you are turning down the heat to save money, you may be losing even more in lost productivity. Employees made 44% more mistakes when working in temperatures below 68 degrees, compared to an optimal room temperature of 77 degrees, according to a Cornell study.

10. Just do it

Letting projects linger can drastically reduce productivity, and research shows prolonged procrastination only makes it harder to get started. When we procrastinate on projects, we tend to psych ourselves out and fill time with busy work that doesn’t contribute much. On the other hand, getting over the hurdle of the first step triggers the “Zeigarnik Effect,” our natural compulsion to complete a task or project once it has started.

Want even more small business productivity hacks and best practices? If you missed it, watch our webinar with Rieva Lesonsky on Productivity Tips: Get Back to What Really Matters.

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